The government has admitted that although progress has been made in the past year towards achieving the goals of improving learning disability hospital services, a great deal more needs to be done.
While many goals set out in the government’s report Transforming Care – its response to the Winterbourne View scandal of 2011 – have been achieved, there remains plenty more to action before the June 2014 deadline.
In the ministerial forward to Transforming Care – one year on, Care Services Minister Norman Lamb said that the report contains a lot on process – legislation, consultation, data collection and such like. “This can seem a long way from the people we are trying to care for,” he wrote. “We need to get those processes right in order to get the care right, but we must never forget the real reason we’re doing all of this, which is people.”
The achievements in the past year were outlined as:
• Completed the Learning Disabilities Census [see news story here]
• Published the Joint Improvement Programme’s stocktake report, including information at local level
• Established an Enhanced Quality Assurance Programme to pursue the June 2014 deadline
• Developed a new planned approach to Care Quality Commission inspection of mental health and learning disabilities services from next year, to be led by Professor Sir Mike Richards
• Developed new fundamental standards, which we will set out in regulations
• Ensured Adult Safeguarding Boards will be written into law.
These achievements are viewed as a springboard to further action. To this end, 5 key actions have been identified for the next six months:
• Meet the commitment to ensure that individuals have moved or are moving to settings closer to family by June 2014
• Establish robust systems for service users, their supporters and clinicians to feed into and challenge the initiatives being taken forward
• Drive concerted effort to ensure that services are provided to a 21st century standard, including Positive Behaviour Support and guidance on minimising the use of restraint
• Establish Key Performance Indicators, using data from the Single Assessment Framework and the census
• Disseminate the model service specification to both children’s and adults’ services so that it can be used to drive up quality.
Lamb added: “I do not pretend that this will be easy. The agenda is crowded and resource is tight. But we are spending public money, putting many people inappropriately in institutionalised care. This is intolerable.
“We all remember the shock we felt when we first discovered what had been happening at Winterbourne View, and none of us wants to read that story happening again somewhere else.”